I’m going to let you in on a secret. One that businesses sometimes overlook as they get caught up in growth. Playing the numbers game (i.e. expanding your reach) is usually enough to nab a few sales, but achieving sustainable success comes from one key element: support.
[Note: This article is the sixth in a multi-part series by Chris Dahl, providing guidance on setting up an ecommerce business. Read Part 1: Commerce Success Begins With Laying Solid Foundations, Part 2: Commerce partners: who’s right for you?, Part 3: Accepting online payments: the essentials, Part 4: Understanding the risks of selling online and Part 5: Everything your ecommerce business needs to know about accepting foreign currency.]
Usually, we refer to support as the final phase of service following a conversion — one that’s separate to sales. But to customers, there is no distinction. Every aspect of the service you offer is a reflection of your business, and thus, the customer’s complete experience and perception of your brand.
Great support comes from taking a customer-oriented approach to product and business. By really knowing and caring about their customers, any ecommerce venture can create offerings that impact the market by genuinely enhancing people’s lives.
Understand the needs of your market
Apple didn’t succeed with the iPhone because it set out to make a better phone, but because it identified and fulfilled a desire within the consumer market. This is what great support looks like at the product development phase: making time to understand a target audience’s needs, and providing a solution that offers benefit on a daily basis.
This thinking also applies to ecommerce businesses that don’t create their own products, like online florists, apparel stores and gadget retailers. By developing appealing product ranges and unique deal packages, your business can address common and widespread market pain points around availability, value and seasonal demand.
Products and services that solve real problems lay a strong foundation for your sales efforts. After all, if what you offer isn’t something your customers need or want, there’s no way you’ll convince them to buy it.
Make it easy for people to become customers
Did you know: nearly 70 percent of online shoppers (on average) will leave your site without making a purchase? This is known as cart abandonment, one of the biggest threats an ecommerce business can face.
Visitors leave prematurely for many reasons; maybe they were just browsing, or maybe their card was declined at checkout. But the stats suggest that too many people are abandoning their carts because of a poor website experience.
It’s crucial to know the journey your customers take when browsing and buying. Optimising online conversion is an exercise in offering support at this pre-sale stage, understanding how visitors interact with your site, and how you might make it easier for them to get what they came for. Your website is your shopfront and sales team rolled into one. With informative content and well thought-out design, it can easily turn leads into prospects, and prospects into customers.
Show you still care after the transaction
Picture this — it’s your turn at the supermarket checkout; the attendant is friendly, but overfills your shopping bag. It rips as you walk away and your items spill out. You ask for a new bag, but go unnoticed as the next customer takes their turn. You realise it’s not the first time this attendant has served you this way. What are the chances you’ll queue up at their checkout next time?
Your dealings with a customer don’t end after a purchase. The first transaction is only the start of what you hope will be an ongoing relationship. After-sale support is a vital part of doing business, encouraging people to come back instead of queueing up at a competitor.
You’ll find a myriad of ways to track how well your brand is meeting your customers’ needs. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) system, for instance, asks your customers how likely they are to recommend you to someone they know. This captures perfectly why great support is vital for your business: if your customers are satisfied, they come to know you as a brand they can rely on to deliver value — one they’re happy to advocate for, bringing new business right to your doorstep
About the author
Pin Payments, an all-in-one payment provider, enabling businesses to accept payments around the world without a traditional gateway or merchant account.Chris Dahl is Director, Sales & Growth at